Owning a holiday home – the rules of engagement

By Marketing, Raine & Horne
NOVEMBER 19, 2019

With most Australians planning a well-earned annual break, Christmas is a perfect time for people with jointly owned family holiday homes to set some ground rules for the upcoming summer period.

“If your family is lucky enough, a holiday home whether it’s on the South Coast Coast of NSW, or a shack on the Tweed Coast, is a great way for the next generation to save on hotel bills,” says Angus Raine, Executive Chairman, Raine & Horne. “There may be investment potential too if the property grows in value or can be rented out for part of the year.” 

Ben Pryde, Co-Principal of Raine & Horne Mollymook/Milton on the NSW South Coast believes that owning a joint holiday home remains a bucket-list item for financially able Australians. “As the older generations become more financial and have a larger equity pool, they see it as a great option to bring a close knit family even closer together, by spending Christmas’ at the new beach house.” said Ben, who has several properties listed including a lakefront cottage at 33 Edwin Avenue Lake Conjola, that has history as a joint family holiday home.

Ben continues, “Families buy a joint home often because they have a fondness for the area and have spent many holidays there in the past. They are all looking for those nostalgic memories of their childhood, holidays with their kids and grandkids, unwrapping presents around the Christmas tree, playing board games, kids running around the yard, building sand castles, picnics in the back yard, swimming, sun-baking and surfing all beaming with the love of family and enjoying the great outdoors and the beach lifestyle.”

Getting some guidelines in place

If some simple rules of engagement are in place from the outset, notes Angus Raine, everyone with a share in a family holiday will be relaxed and comfortable this Christmas. He adds, “If you’re fortunate enough to have a share in a holiday home, meet with your family members before the summer holidays to settle on an agreement that works for all parties.” 

A roster for peak periods

An accommodation schedule or roster shared with all family members is crucial, Angus advises. “There will likely be hot competition for times such as the Christmas-New Year week and Easter in early April 2020.

“Some families solve this potential competition by alternating from year to year,” Angus says. “Or some family members may have more flexibility – for instance, because they’re retired or self-employed – and they might agree to holiday at non-peak times.”

Ben Pryde chimes in, “Families often get a choice of the school holidays and retirees during the school weeks. With a fair and common-sense approach, families can always find a scheduling solution that works.”

Housekeeping ideas

Family members may have different ideas about cleanliness, but that won’t be an issue if everyone agrees at the outset what condition the property must be left in for the next occupants, Angus advises. “Some families streamline cleaning by choosing to pay for a professional cleaner when they vacate the property,” he says.

Cleaning is a crucial point, agrees Ben. “Cleaners are almost essential and often used or alternatively, everyone has to pitch in whether it be cleaning, general maintenance or the lawns and gardens.

“We often hear stories that someone doesn’t carry their weight by contributing financially or manually. It is important to set the ground rules and budget, otherwise someone is always left to foot the bill.”

The question of linen can also create disagreements says, Angus. “If sheets and towels become an issue, a family might make a rule that each occupant brings their linen and takes it with them when they leave.”

Jamie Wilmen, Principal of Pottsville /Cabarita Beach on the Tweed Coast, close to the border between NSW and Queensland, advises that whether you own a holiday rental or shared family holiday home, using a linen service provided by a laundromat will minimise family squabbles.

Angus adds, “Cleaning the barbecue is a golden rule of shared holiday homeownership and making sure there’s a full gas bottle for the next occupants, so be sure to include that on your family’s checklist.”

Discuss repairs and maintenance

To avoid being caught short when inevitable repairs and maintenance are required, Angus suggests an agreement on the payment of these expenses from the outset can help avoid rancour.

Jamie Wilmen suggests, “Some families have set up a sinking fund, like those used in strata arrangements, where all owners contribute an amount. These contributions are calculated based on use.”

Ben Pryde said most families have a tradesperson who could handle the maintenance responsibilities. “As long as that person is happy to contribute, they often take pride in the work and enjoy improving the family weekender.

“It is important that they are not taken advantage of and it still should be an all-hands-on-deck approach and any material costs can come from a maintenance/ renovation kitty.”

If these options fail to work, then an old fashion working bee could be a fantastic way to keep the holiday home spick-and-span, according to Angus.